Some places just stay super close to your heart and Helsinki is one of them. The Southern capital of Finland is a night’s cruise away from Stockholm. After two years of our previous cruise experience in Singapore, it was cruise time again 🙂 We both love cruises and we were super excited about the whole trip. So excited that we almost missed the cruise and boarded as the last passengers after running for over 2 kms in the yard.
Once in, all was well. A comfortable room and a neat ship – not as huge as the Star Cruise though – activities on board were less too. The views outside are so beautiful that you will never be interested in on-board activities. There was yummy Scandinavian food(veg options too) and unlimited desserts 🙂 Never think cruise will make you sea sick. You are so many levels above the sea that you will hardly feel the waves. Cruising experience is addicting and simply wonderful beyond words. I strongly believe this is the best way to explore different locations without worrying about packing your bags, check.in, check-out, rushing to the flight and so on !! Completely relaxing B-)
Helsinki is a neat city for a one day visit. On arriving, we headed straight to Suomenlinna(Sveaborg)island – if you visit this, your trip to Finland will have justice 🙂 We visited during summer, in the month of June. I still needed a simple pull over at times 😛 Locals told us that this was the coldest summer in over 20 years. No disappointments when you don’t expect the sun to hit you on the head..
An untouched island with sea waves all around, this was initially a military area. Our guide was in the military and he had been posted in Suomenlinna. He shared stories about his army days and how they were envied by soldiers in other areas for being so close to the city. The star-shaped fortress and the King’s passage were mesmerizing. Like every place, this fortress too has many sad stories of soldiers who died of cold. Walking through the ruins is sure to give you the chills.
We took time to explore the fortress. Walking along the edge of the fortress, along the sea, with water and greenery all around, occasional passing of huge ships so close by.. Enchanting fortress of Suomenlinna I would call it !!
Back to the city, you can take the trams to move around the important monuments. There is a circular route through with trains exclusively for tourist spots move. You can get down at each stop and look around the places of interest. Get this map at the tourist center. The map also gives you details about each monument. Helps you decide if you want to get down or not.
Sea food is a craze in these regions. So are fresh fruits. From the cruise, you will walk through the local market to move to the city. Take a dive into the various options that you have 🙂
There is an option to visit Tallinn(Estonia) in the same cruise. We couldn’t take enough days off to accommodate that. Helsinki-Tallinn-St.Petersburg is also an awesome combo.
Northern Europe is generally cold. Carry appropriate clothes. Summer is the best time to visit. A friend of mine visited Helsinki in winter and had to wade through 2 feet deep snow. He sat indoors all day. Book the cruise packages in advance to get awesome deals.
The 24 hours pass gives you access around the city and also to the Suomenlinna island. People speak English and communication is not an issue. Time zone difference is common when you travel across different countries. Never forget to update you watch !!
To me Suomenlinna is one of the places I will cherish all life. Looking forward to cruising again soon. It will be your dream come true vacation, I am sure 🙂